Regulation

Big Tech Compliance Tracker: Japan Fair Trade Commission Receives Amazon Japan’s Improvement Blueprint; Italy’s Competition Regulator AGCM Probes Cloud Platforms 

Here’s the latest news for Big Techs AmazonFacebook, Apple, and Google, which are coming under increasing scrutiny from regulators and officials.

Regulation  

Amazon Japan Provides Watchdog With Improvement Plan 

Amazon Japan has provided the nation’s fair-trade watchdog with a blueprint describing how it will revise procedures that were believed to contravene anti-trust regulations, Reuters reported.

The Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC) raided the unit two years ago over a concern that Amazon Japan was pressuring suppliers to handle part of the cost of discounting their items on its Web site.

“We continue to have cooperative and productive discussions with the JFTC,” the firm said in a statement, as per Reuters.

The improvement blueprint has a plan to reimburse suppliers who were compelled to provide payment of what local media referred to as “cooperation money.” The regulator said Thursday (Sept. 10) that it had accepted the unit’s plan, according to Reuters.

Irish Regulator Seeks To Halt Facebook US Data Transfers   

The Data Protection Commission of Ireland has provided Facebook with a preliminary mandate to halt data transfers to the United States regarding the company’s users in the European Union, The Wall Street Journal report, citing unnamed sources.

The social-media company would probably have to rework its platform to isolate a good portion of the information it gets from European users or halt working with them for at least a limited time, according to the WSJ.

“A lack of safe, secure and legal international data transfers would damage the economy and prevent the emergence of data-driven businesses from the EU, just as we seek a recovery from COVID-19,” Facebook executive Nick Clegg said, per WSJ.

Facebook rolled out what Reuters described as “legal action” on Friday (Sept. 11) against the commission as an effort to stop the potential order.

Taxes 

European Official Says Big Tech Should Pay ‘Fair Amount’ Of Taxes In Europe 

Paolo Gentiloni, the European commissioner for economics and taxation, told CNBC that large tech companies need to pay a “fair amount” of taxes in the region, particularly since they are COVID-19’s “real winners.”

“The giants of the digital platforms are the real winners of this crisis, from the economical point of view,” Gentiloni told the network. “We all experience this in our own lives.”

The European Commission has suggested the idea of a 3 percent digital tax, as it contended that the tax system has to be revised for the digital era. However, the White House has contended that such a digital tax isn’t equitable, as it would affect American companies more than those from other places.

Fines  

UK Watchdog Imposes $71,000 Penalty On Amazon 

The United Kingdom’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) imposed a 55,000-pound penalty (approximately $70,750) on Amazon after the regulator had to postpone its probe into the eCommerce retailer’s acquisition of a 16 percent portion of Deliveroo.

The watchdog claimed that nearly 190 documents were not provided before the original deadline had elapsed.

“Although Amazon did ultimately provide all of the information required, the CMA considers that Amazon’s behavior caused unnecessary delays to the CMA’s investigation,” the organization said, as per City A.M. 

In August, the CMA provided the green light for the investment more than a year following the time that Amazon headed up Deliveroo’s Series G investment round.

News 

European Commission Calls For Greater Platform Transparency  

A European Commission report found that the Code of Practice on Disinformation has served as a “very valuable instrument,” but showcased “certain shortcomings” — primarily because of the code’s self-regulatory quality.

The assessment found such problems as the absence of “clearer procedures, commonly shared definition and more precise commitments,” among others, according to a Thursday (Sept. 10) press release.

“The Code of Practice has shown that online platforms and the advertising sector can do a lot to counter disinformation when they are put under public scrutiny,” Vice President for Values and Transparency Věra Jourová said in the press release.“But platforms need to be more accountable and responsible; they need to become more transparent.”

Apple Wants Damages From Epic Games In App Store Payment Dispute 

Apple wants damages from Fortnite parent Epic Games amid its conflict with the developer, which began in August, USA Today reported.

Epic’s decision to provide a direct-payment choice that circumvents the Apple App Store’s payment capability, as well as Apple’s portion of revenue, represented “malicious and/or fraudulent misconduct," according to Apple’s reply to Epic Game’s suit, as per USA Today.

The tech company claims that the breach of contract affords it with punitive damages in addition to interest, legal charges and compensatory damages.

“This court should hold Epic to its contractual promises, award Apple compensatory and punitive damages, and enjoin Epic from engaging in further unfair business practices,” Apple said in the filing, as per USA Today.

The tech company also noted in the filing that Epic took the first action in the dispute, and that its “willful, brazen, and unlawful conduct cannot be left unchecked. Apple looks forward to defending against Epic’s baseless claims.”

Italy’s Competition Watchdog Probes Cloud Offerings 

The AGCM, Italy’s competition watchdog, has begun a probe into cloud storage offerings that Dropbox, Google and Apple run following grievances claiming unfair procedures as per published reports.

The group said it has started six probes overall, according to reports, which noted that iCloud of Apple, Drive of Google and Dropbox’s cloud storage platforms are the offerings in focus.

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